If You Work at Roger Ailes’s Upstate Local Newspapers, He Might Have You Followed

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"Go on, try to pee. I dare you." Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Fox News mastermind Roger Ailes runs a tight ship over at 1211 Avenue of the Americas. But apparently his attention to detail there (he watches every show from his office, all day long) is nothing compared to how he runs the pair of small-town newspapers he owns in Putnam County, New York. (For backstory on why he bought the papers, and how odd it is that he's turned them into right-wing rags in such a liberal enclave, read the New Yorker's January profile.) According to Gawker's John Cook, Ailes had former editor John Lindsley and two reporters followed after suspecting they were bad-mouthing him during their lunch breaks. The trio would occasionally drive to another town to have lunch and take a brief break. He eventually fired them.

Cook's account of one such incident:

[Lindsley] was driving to a deli in Cold Spring for lunch earlier this month when he noticed a black Lincoln Navigator that seemed to be following him, according to several sources familiar with the incident. Lindsley drove aimlessly for a while to make sure he was being followed, and the Navigator stayed on him. Then he got a look at the driver, who was a News Corporation security staffer that Lindsley happened to know socially. Lindsley continued on his way and later called the driver to ask if he was following him. The answer was yes, at Ailes' direction.

This was weird, as the young Lindsley had once been extremely, even weirdly close to the Ailes family. "Indeed, in what associates describe as an exceedingly awkward moment for Lindsley, Elizabeth once joked to him that she was grooming him to replace her husband," writes Cook. "'When Roger dies, you're going to have some special responsibilities around here,'" she is quoted as saying. Once, after a remote alarm sounded and cops were slow to arrive on the scene, the couple even had Lindsley enter their house and attempt to scare off a potential burglar.

When Lindsley arrived before the police, Ailes ordered him to enter the home in an effort to scare off the intruder. Speaking to Lindsley on his cell phone, Ailes led him around the darkened house, telling him which rooms to check and which lights to turn on to startle the burglar. It turned out to be a false alarm.

Fox News reps Elizabeth Ailes call these "rambling allegations" untrue and "not even reality based." But the eerie sense of being spied upon wasn't limited to Lindsley and the two fired reporters. Just in case staffers at the two papers forget who is in charge, Cook reports, "the single unisex bathroom in the papers' headquarters features portraits of Elizabeth and Roger on the walls, watching you, while you poop."

Well, that explains those midday trips to the next town over. That office sounds absolutely sphincter-sealing!

Roger Ailes Caught Spying on the Reporters at His Small-Town Newspaper [Gawker]